According to a letter filed today by Clare Bronfman’s attorneys, her presentencing report suggests a longer sentence than the 21-27 months the government originally calculated.
While the report is not available to the public, Bronfman’s attorney’s letter [see complete letter] gives us information about what the report contains.
Most significant is that it calculates a longer sentence for Bronfman – and that there were 25 pages of victim impact statements.
Bronfman, an heiress of the Seagram’s liquor fortune and Director of Operations for Nxivm, pleaded guilty on April 19, 2019, in Brooklyn Federal Court after signing a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, along with attorney Kate Cassidy, represented Bronfman.
Yesterday, Judge Garaufis in issuing a scheduling order, stated he was “considering an above Guidelines sentence,” meaning a sentence longer than 27 months.
At the time of her entering her plea, the judge advised Bronfman she could appeal her sentence if it is more than 27 months. He also advised her that, “even if the sentence I give is you more severe than what you may be thinking or hoping you will receive, you are still going to be bound by your guilty pleas.”
There is new information in the letter filed today by Bronfman’s attorney, Kathleen E. Cassidy.
Here is the letter in part:
Dear Judge Garaufis:
We write to address Your Honor’s Scheduling Order entered yesterday, and to respectfully request an adjournment….
We received the Presentence Investigation Report for Ms. Bronfman (“PSR”) on the afternoon of Friday, December 13, 2019. Her sentencing is currently scheduled for January 8, 2020. Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e)(2), the minimum required notice to the defendant and the defendant’s attorney is 35 days before sentencing, which means the earliest possible sentencing date, assuming no more than the minimum required notice period is granted, would be January 17, 2020.
Defendant respectfully seeks an adjournment of the sentencing date … to allow the defendant sufficient time to object to the new information contained in the PSR, to allow the Probation Department adequate time to address the defense’s objections to material information and sentencing guidelines ranges contained in the report, and to effectively represent our client at sentencing, particularly given the notice we received yesterday that the Court is contemplating an above Guidelines sentence.
The PSR we received … is 75 pages long and raises numerous alleged instances of wrongdoing and other factual issues apart from the offenses to which Ms. Bronfman pled guilty.
It includes several new factual allegations that have not been raised by the government previously, or that differ in significant ways from the government’s previous factual assertions about Ms. Bronfman….
Furthermore, the Probation Department has, we believe erroneously, calculated a higher Guidelines range applicable to Ms. Bronfman’s offenses of conviction than the parties had calculated in the plea agreement.
It also contains 25 pages of victim impact statements that the defendant received for the first time in the PSR.
I spoke to AUSA Karin Orenstein …. who informed me that there were victim impact statements… that had not yet been provided to the defense. I asked that those statements be disclosed to the defense. AUSA Orenstein agreed.
…. until… the full statements are provided, defense counsel cannot adequately respond to the victim impact statements included in the PSR or make any appropriate objections to their inclusion in the PSR.
This new information contained in the PSR consists of “material information” and “sentencing guidelines ranges” to which defense counsel is entitled to file written objections…
Defendant is also entitled to have the Probation Department carefully consider our objections, both factual and legal, and address those objections, prior to making its final Guidelines calculation and recommendation to this Court….
Already, the defendant has alerted the government and the Probation Department to one significant and material error in the PSR – the incorrect statement that Ms. Bronfman had not yet paid her criminal forfeiture obligation. In fact, she did pay the full amount of the forfeiture due under the plea agreement at the time provided in the plea agreement.
The government agrees that this was an incorrect statement, and U.S. Probation Officer Deniz informed me this week that she anticipates filing an addendum correcting this error after the New Year….
Thus, defendant respectfully requests the below adjournments….
- …. January 9 to file written objections to the PSR…
- … January 27 to file defendant’s sentencing submission…
- We request an adjournment of defendant’s sentencing date from January 8, 2020 until a date convenient for the Court after the parties’ submissions have been filed, noting that from January 27 through March 6, Mr. Geragos anticipates being on trial in Utah and thus requests a Friday date when the Utah court is not sitting if the sentencing is scheduled in that time frame.
Finally, in view of the Court’s notice that it is contemplating a sentence above the Guidelines, we respectfully request that the Court order Probation to provide the parties with a copy of the Probation Office’s recommendation to the Court on the sentence.
Moreover, if there are specific grounds upon which the Court is contemplating an above Guidelines sentence, we respectfully ask for notice of those grounds so that we may address the Court’s concerns specifically in our submission….
Kathleen E. Cassidy
cc: AUSAs Tanya Hajjar and Karin Orenstein (via ECF)
U.S. Probation Officer Angelica Deniz (via email)
- Bronfman’s presentencing report is 75 pages, which is long for a two count non-violent felony conviction.
- The report alleges wrongdoing above and beyond the felonies she pleaded guilty to. In other words, the report likely suggests she committed crimes other than those for which she was charged.
- The author of the report, U.S. Probation Officer Angelica Deniz, made a calculation for sentencing higher than the 27 months the government estimated. How much higher is unknown.
- There are 25 pages [out of the 75-page report] of summaries of statements of 25? alleged victims.
- Bronfman pleaded guilty to crimes that only involved only two victims – Sylvie and the estate of Pam Cafritz.
- The victim statements that are contained in the report are summaries, not complete statements.
- The full victim statements will be released to Bronfman, subject to a protective order allowing victim identities to be made known to Bronfman but not the public
- Her defense can object to victim impact statements, alleging crimes that have not been proven in a court of law. [i.e. Bronfman only pleaded guilty to identity theft and harboring one alien] arguing that other alleged and unproven crimes should not factor into her sentence. This is a due process argument.
- Bronfman paid $6 million in cash as part of her plea deal. She paid on time. The defense points out this mistake in the report.
- Bronfman has not received her Probation Officer’s actual recommendation as to what sentence she thinks Bronfman should get.
- Her Probation Officer’s calculation on sentencing guidelines may have been informed by new information she uncovered.
- It is possible Bronfman violated terms of her home confinement.
- Her Probation Officer came up with a different calculation than what the government estimated.
- The judge, in a rare move, announced he is considering a higher sentence than what the government predicted and that will permit Bronfman to appeal. Whether or not she will remain under home confinement and not in prison pending appeal is up to the judge.
I do not think this was a contrived measure to allow Bronfman to appeal.
I suspect the Probation Report was legitimately conducted. Based at least in part on this report, Judge Garaufis has announced he is considering sentencing Bronfman to a term longer than 27 months, which automatically allows her to appeal.
Granting the defense time to object to information presented in the report will help insulate the judge from being overturned on appeal.
His granting requested extensions of time seems probable for the same reason.
Unless Bronfman can come up with some persuasive evidence to rebut the Probation Report, she is likely to receive a longer sentence than 27 months.
One potentially persuasive move she might consider is to finally admit that her association with Raniere was disastrous and utterly wrong, something she did not admit in her allocution before the judge when she entered her plea deal.
Unless she can persuade the judge of her genuine contrition and offer good legal and factual arguments to rebut the Probation Report, I predict she will get a minimum of 3 years, and more likely 5 years, and potentially as long as 7-10 years.
The reason I say 5 years is most likely is because the judge announced he was considering an above guidelines sentence. If it were merely a few months longer than the 27 months, it would seem unnecessary to announce this in advance and prompt a spate of filings.